Bishop Eugene Larocque cross-examination re Father Gaetan Deschamps

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excerpt from 27 August 2008 transcript, Cornwall Public Inquiry

(Rob Talach was one of the lawyers for the Victim’s Group)

Complete TRANSCRIPT:  Bishop Eugene Larocque testimony at Cornwall Public Inquiry  27 August 2008

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TALACH: Bishop, if I’m moving through different subject areas here a little too fast let me know.  I’m going to turn now to a priest by the name of Father Gaetan Deschamps.

MSGR. LAROCQUE:  Yes.

MR. TALACH:  And he is a priest who was incarnated to the Diocese of Prince Albert, Saskatchewan?

MSGR. LAROCQUE: That’s correct. Yes.

MR. TALACH: He is originally from Cornwall though?

MSGR. LAROCQUE: That’s right.

MR. TALACH: Okay. And he came here as priest from Saskatchewan while you were Bishop?

MSGR. LAROCQUE:  That’s correct. Yes.

MR. TALACH: And can you tell us about the circumstances of him coming here?

MSGR. LAROCQUE: I’m not quite sure. That’s — I’d have to renew my memory, but I’m not quite sure how to answer that question. Yes.

MR. TALACH:  Did he come here from Saskatchewan direct or did he come here from some facility in Ontario?

THE COMMISSIONER: As in Southdown, you mean?

MR. TALACH: Yeah, I’m going to go to a document to suggest that he was there, Mr. Commissioner.

THE COMMISSIONER: Okay, well —

MSGR. LAROCQUE: I can’t recall — so I would —

MR. TALACH: I don’t have any timing on that Bishop. Why don’t we — I guess the next question is while you were Bishop did you have any allegations with respect to him?

MSGR. LAROCQUE: None whatsoever. No.

TALACH: Okay. I have a supplementary notice document 711925. They are CAS notes of, I believe,

Richard Abell. Again, for counsel that’s a supplementary notice, Rule 38, the Document number 711925, handwritten notes.

THE COMMISSIONER:  Exhibit 2160.

— EXHIBIT NO./PIÉCE No. P-2160:

(711925) Handwritten notes of Richard Abell

THE COMMISSIONER: Can we put that on the screen, Madame Clerk, and blow it up so that we can see if we can read this.

MSGR. LAROCQUE: Hard to read.

THE COMMISSIONER: It will — if you look on the screen, Monsignor. Watch — some more. It might even get better. We’ll magnify it some more. There we go. Now bring it to the top. Okay.

TALACH: It appears to be cut off all the copies that I’ve looked at, Mr. Commissioner. Bishop, this is a — there’s reference in this document to a Father Gates. I take it that’s —

MSGR. LAROCQUE: That’s — that was the way he was called. Yes.

MR. TALACH: Okay.

MR. TALACH: I’m going to turn now to a priest by the name of Father Gaetan Deschamps.

MSGR. LAROCQUE: Yes

MR. TALACH: And he is a priest who was incarnated to the Diocese of Prince Albert, Saskatchewan?

MSGR. LAROCQUE: That’s correct. Yes.

MR. TALACH: He is originally from Cornwall though?

MSGR. LAROCQUE: That’s right.

MR. TALACH: Okay. And he came here as priest from Saskatchewan while you were Bishop?

MSGR. LAROCQUE: That’s correct. Yes.

MR. TALACH: And can you tell us about the circumstances of him coming here?

MSGR. LAROCQUE: I’m not quite sure. That’s — I’d have to renew my memory, but I’m not quite sure how to answer that question. Yes.

MR. TALACH: Did he come here from Saskatchewan direct or did he come here from some facility in Ontario?

THE COMMISSIONER: As in Southdown, you mean?

MR. TALACH: Yeah, I’m going to go to a document to suggest that he was there, Mr. Commissioner.

THE COMMISSIONER: Okay, well —

MSGR. LAROCQUE: I can’t recall — so I would —

MR. TALACH: I don’t have any timing on that Bishop. Why don’t we — I guess the next question is while you were Bishop did you have any llegations with respect to him?

MSGR. LAROCQUE: None whatsoever. No.

MR. TALACH: Okay. I have a supplementary notice document 711925. They are CAS notes of, I believe, Richard Abell.

Again, for counsel that’s a supplementary notice, Rule 38, the Document number 711925, handwritten notes.

THE COMMISSIONER:  Exhibit 2160.

— EXHIBIT NO./PIÉCE No. P-2160:

(711925) Handwritten notes of Richard Abell

THE COMMISSIONER:

Can we put that on the screen, Madame Clerk, and blow it up so that we can see if we can read this.

MSGR. LAROCQUE: Hard to read.

THE COMMISSIONER: It will — if you look on the screen, Monsignor. Watch — some more. It might even get better. We’ll magnify it some more. There we go. Now bring it to the top. Okay.

MR. TALACH: It appears to be cut off all the copies that I’ve looked at, Mr. Commissioner. Bishop, this is a — there’s reference in this document to a Father Gates. I take it that’s —

MSGR. LAROCQUE: That’s — that was the way he was called. Yes.

MR. TALACH: Okay. So Father Gates and Father Deschamps are the same person.

MSGR. LAROCQUE: Father Gaetan Deschamps and he was called Father Gates. Yeah.

MR. TALACH: And I’ll just — if you look here there’s a note that — we’ll we’ve lost the top but something —

MSGR. LAROCQUE: Is there a date on this, do you know?

MR. TALACH: No, we don’t have a timeframe for this. It says, I think it says:

 “Uncle, she spoke to me regarding Father Gates, earlier, Father Gates—”

MSGR. LAROCQUE: “Bought a cottage”, yeah.

MR. TALACH: “— bought a cottage this Summer; been taking boys up there —”

MSGR. LAROCQUE:  “Sons of a cousin”.

MR. TALACH:  “— sons of a cousin. Father Gates hangs out with her sister Carol. He buys gifts for her boys.”

THE COMMISSIONER:  Lynn.

MR. TALACH: “Lynn spoke to Carol about her concerns; alerted her. She’s concerned.”

And then it says: “He’s been to Southdown” and then there’s a question mark, I think — of what he was there for.

MSGR. LAROCQUE:  No, it’s a question mark.

 “Is Southdown only for pedophiles?”

MR. TALACH: Okay, so —

MSGR. LAROCQUE: Pedophiles.

MR. TALACH: Do you know anything about Father Gates going to Southdown?

MSGR. LAROCQUE: I can’t recall. No. I certainly didn’t send him there.

MR. TALACH: And when he came here, it was in the nineties; correct?

MSGR. LAROCQUE: I believe so, at the beginning of the nineties. Yes.

MR. TALACH: And would you have done some sort of assessment on his background as you had done with Stone and others, before you allowed them into the Diocese?

MSGR. LAROCQUE: I believe I wrote to the Bishop of Prince Albert, yes. But I — that would be in his file if I wrote to him, to the Bishop.

MR. TALACH: Well, we don’t have his file. So, —

MSGR. LAROCQUE: I see, well I …

MR. TALACH: You don’t recall any background information on him when he came here?

MSGR. LAROCQUE: Not in that regard. No.

MR. TALACH: And of course our focus here is background information with respect to potential sexual misconduct.

MSGR. LAROCQUE: That’s right. Yes.

MR. TALACH: Okay. Now there is — the next reference is that they’ve spoken to an OPP officer and then it says:

 “Bishop told Father Gates not to have boys up there (cottage).”

This came from a cousin of — think it’s Lynn again Do you remember telling Father Gates not to take boys to his cottage?

MSGR. LAROCQUE:I can’t even remember Father Gates having a cottage, to tell you the truth. If you have a date; because Father Gates was still an active priest when I left.

MR. TALACH: He came here when you were here and he was still a priest when you left in 2002.

MSGR. LAROCQUE: He was still an active priest. Yes.

MR. TALACH: Well, I can tell you that I don’t have any belief that this document is later than 2002.

MSGR. LAROCQUE: Is that right? Okay.

MR. TALACH: Okay. And maybe what we’ll do is we’ll try and clear that up at some point, likely when we get —

MSGR. LAROCQUE: Well, if she says that. I mean I have no recollection to tell you the truth.

MR. TALACH: Did —

MSGR. LAROCQUE: I don’t even have a recollection that he had a cottage to tell you the truth.

MR. TALACH: Do you have any recollection about him? Did you know he was an avid camper?

MSGR. LAROCQUE: No, all that I remember is that he was a terrifically hard worker and worked mostly in marriage preparation and with children who had been — who needed encouragement and I forget what he called them, the doves.

MR. TALACH: Sorry?

MSGR. LAROCQUE: The doves or something like that. There was —

MR. TALACH: So it was a group for children that for some reason needed —

MSGR. LAROCQUE: With some adults helping him, for children who needed some kind of encouragement and — but I never received any — any negative comments with regard to — but he was a very, very hard worker that I can vouch for but —

MR. TALACH: But the doves is the group that you referred to?

MSGR. LAROCQUE: It seems to me that that was the name that was given to me. There were three or four groups that he — that he was involved in with lay people.

MR. TALACH: And is this developmentally delayed children or is this a confidence building sort of core program?

MSGR. LAROCQUE: I can’t recall exactly what it was. I’m sorry.

MR. TALACH: But I take it we’re at the extent of your information about Father Gates?

MSGR. LAROCQUE: I knew him and he was a pastor in — Blessed Sacrament I think when I left.

MR. TALACH: Yeah, I believe that you appointed him in 1991 to Blessed Sacrament; does that sound right — or sorry, 2001 when you left, just before you left?

MSGR. LAROCQUE: Right.

MR. TALACH: So there was no restrictions you placed on his ministry when he came here?

MSGR. LAROCQUE: None whatsoever; I had no reason to.

MR. TALACH: Okay. And have you learned of any allegations against him to date?

MSGR. LAROCQUE: It seems to me that the present Bishop did share something with me on that score, yes.

MR. TALACH: That there was some complaint in Prince Albert.

MSGR. LAROCQUE: Oh, yes. Yeah. I believe that was it. Yeah.

MR. TALACH: Prince Albert and Cornwall, I just want to examine that just momentarily because there seems to be some interaction between priest — is this a sister diocese or something, is there some official connection?

MSGR. LAROCQUE: No. Not that I know — certainly not in my time anyway.

MR. TALACH: Do you remember the individual Richard Hickerson?

MSGR. LAROCQUE: No.

MR. TALACH: He came from Prince Albert as – – as a priest of there, as a laicise or some form of retirement and he came here to Cornwall. Does that ring a bell? Did you have any interaction with his arrival here?

MSGR. LAROCQUE: Not to my knowledge. When did he arrive?

MR. TALACH: I don’t have that specific date. But if — you have no recall of any interaction —

MSGR. LAROCQUE: The name doesn’t mean anything to me at the present time. No.

MR. TALACH: Okay. And I did — I wasn’t clear on that — the interaction between Prince Albert and Cornwall, is there some relation between the Bishops or —

MSGR. LAROCQUE: Well, I believe Bishop Brodeur would have known Bishop Morin, and I know Bishop Morin because he was a — his family was in Tecumseh when I was Pastor there. There are six brothers who are priests and one of them is a bishop.

MR. TALACH: So at the time you’re Bishop here, Bishop Morin, who grew up in Tecumseh —

MSGR. LAROCQUE: Right.

MR. TALACH: — is the Bishop in Prince Albert.

MSGR. LAROCQUE: Yes.

MR. TALACH: And did the two of you have any occasion to talk about, “You need a priest, I’ll give you one,” or, “I’ve got this priest coming your way,” or was there any interaction like that?

MSGR. LAROCQUE: No, but when we would meet at the Bishops’ meetings we would talk about Father Gates, and never did anything surface in our conversation with regard to sexual matters.

MR. TALACH: And it sounds like you knew Bishop Morin enough that you could pick up the phone when Gates wanted to come back to Cornwall and say, “What’s the story on this guy?”

MSGR. LAROCQUE: I could have done that, yes, I suppose.

MR. TALACH: You don’t have any memory of that though?

MSGR. LAROCQUE: No, I don’t.

 

 

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